Elizabeth Warren’s plan to beat the other Democrats, and Trump? Her ground game, according to new campaign memo

WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is girding for a difficult fight for the Democratic presidential nomination and has beefed up staffing well beyond the earliest voting states, according to a strategy memo distributed by her campaign manager on Friday.

The memo said Warren has more than 1,000 staffers in 31 states plus Washington, D.C., telegraphing that she will be fighting to the end to win the Democratic nomination even as she has lagged behind Senator Bernie Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden in national polls and lost her edge in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

“We expect this to be a long nomination fight and have built our campaign to sustain well past Super Tuesday and stay resilient no matter what breathless media narratives come when voting begins,” wrote Roger Lau in the memo sent via e-mail to supporters.


The e-mail could be read as an effort by the campaign to lower expectations in the earliest states and shift attention to its path through those that vote later — much as Hillary Clinton did in 2016 after she barely squeaked out a win in Iowa and lost New Hampshire to Sanders, but stabilized her campaign later on.

Warren has invested heavily in those two states, particularly Iowa. She began building a large staff there while her rivals were still getting their campaigns off the ground, and had held 107 events in the state as of last week, according to her campaign. But with less than two weeks before voters go to the polls, it is not clear whether she has a special advantage over her leading rivals, since she and three other candidates — Biden, Sanders, and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg —are bunched together near the top of the polls.

Lau’s memo said little about the campaign’s investment in Iowa, called the four early states “just the beginning,” and pointed out that they carry less than 4 percent of the delegates needed to secure the nomination.


Instead, Lau emphasized the campaign’s plan to muscle its way through contests on Super Tuesday and beyond. What went unsaid is that, by staffing up early in states that vote in early March and later, the campaign could be well-positioned to pick up the supporters of candidates who drop out before a given state votes.

The memo also appeared to offer a practical rebuttal to the ongoing concerns, voiced by voters and pundits alike, about Warren’s “electability” against Trump, pointing to the campaign’s ground game as an asset that could help her beat him. Lau vowed the campaign will keep its staffers spread around the country in order to wage a 50-state campaign against the sitting president.

“As we build our campaign to win delegates in every state and territory to secure the Democratic nomination, we’re doing it with an eye toward sustaining it through the general election,” Lau said. “For instance, after the very first contest, we will keep staff on the ground and offices open in Iowa.”

It also echoed the electability pitch Warren made on the debate stage last week.

“We have no doubt whether Elizabeth can beat Trump: She’s not only undefeated in running for office, but she’s the only presidential candidate who’s beaten a Republican incumbent in the past 30 years,” Lau said.


Lau said Warren’s campaign has more than 100 field offices open across the country, and several hundred organizers in states that vote between Super Tuesday on March 3 and the beginning of April.

“By mid-April, we will have organizers on the ground in the remaining states, completing the full map,” he said.

The memo did not directly mention the pitch Warren and some of her surrogates have been making in Iowa — that she is the candidate best positioned to unify the party’s progressive and moderate elements.

But it did tie the campaign’s extensive field operations to its plans to secure Democratic victories in the House and the Senate, which would be critical for Warren to enact her sweeping legislative agenda if elected president. That could also assure moderate Democrats that the liberal Massachusetts senator is committed to helping the entire party.

“When Elizabeth Warren is the Democratic nominee and the leader of our party, every person who shares our hopes for the future of this country will be asked to invest their time and money in the broader Democratic ticket,” Lau wrote.

Lau said Warren’s campaign recently received its 3 millionth individual donation — a figure the campaign boasted was the strongest for a “first time” presidential candidate, but one that falls short of the more than 5 million donations Sanders said his campaign had recorded by the end of last year.

Jess Bidgood can be reached at Jess.Bidgood@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessbidgood.